Review: 2 Chainz at the Midland

02/28/2014 7:44 AM

02/28/2014 7:44 AM

The Midland theater became the twerk capital of the Midwest on Thursday.

2 Chainz, the jovial court jester of hip-hop, exhorted women to dance suggestively during his 80-minute headlining performance. Many in the near-capacity audience of almost 3,000 were eager to comply.

The rapper from Atlanta has released two albums and a slew of mixtapes. He announced Thursday that he's "working on the first-ever 3D sex tape."

Given the lurid nature of his music, it's unclear if he was joking.

The first words 2 Chainz rapped Thursday were "I had a dream," the opening line of his 2013 album "B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time."

His set closed with "Black Unicorn," a song that employs the refrain "free at last, free at last." 2 Chainz' evocation of Martin Luther King, Jr. was severely incongruous. He raps about the acquisition of riches, drug dealing, bedroom conquests and achieving heightened states of inebriation.

The brazenly moronic strip-club bangers "Used 2," "Birthday Song" and "I Luv Dem Strippers" were among the best-received songs.

He delivered the salacious material with all of the nuance of an excitable yell leader on the sidelines of a sporting event. 2 Chainz's a cappella rendition of his verse from the 2012 hit "Mercy," however, demonstrated that he's capable of rapping with a modicum of artfulness.

Although he was backed only by a DJ, 2 Chainz seemed far more focused than he did during his lackluster appearance at the Sprint Center in November. The comparatively intimate setting allowed him to serve as an effectively amiable host at Thursday's dance-oriented party.

Much of the audience treated Pusha T like an unwelcome guest. If 2 Chainz is hip-hop's most lovable buffoon, Pusha T serves as the genre's malevolent poet laureate. Yet Pusha T's lyricism didn't impress impatient fans of 2 Chainz. His fervent readings of penetrating material like "40 Acres," "Nosetalgia" and "Grindin'," a hit he scored in 2002 as half of Clipse, were roundly ignored.

During "Millions," his recent collaboration with Rick Ross, Pusha T suggested that his music sounded "like God." On Thursday his anointed sounds were reduced to background music for indifferent partiers anxiously waiting to receive twerk directives from 2 Chainz.

August Alsina, a silky crooner from New Orleans, opened the concert with songs from his forthcoming debut album. His provocative moves elicited squeals of delight from the audience dominated by young women. Alsina's appropriately arousing contemporary R&B set the mood for the twerk-happy revelers.

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